Amid Surging Economic Crisis, UKGC Urges Gambling Operators: Play Safe, Play Fair

Dangerous/Safe

Amid the surging economic crisis spurred by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic fallout and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK’s regulatory Gambling Commission (UKGC) is urging the betting industry to double-down on responsible gaming standards and safeguards to protect potentially vulnerable players.

“We recognise that the country is now entering a different phase as we adjust to life after a series of restrictions,” the commission said in a statement this week

“We continue to expect extra vigilance from operators as consumers are impacted in different ways by the circumstances brought on by the pandemic and the wider economic environment.

“Many people will still feel vulnerable as a result of the length of the pandemic period [and] uncertainty about their personal or financial circumstances.”

Although, overall, there was little change in gambling frequency and spend, according to latest UKGC data, the commission cautioned operators to:

“Continue to follow the ‘strengthened guidance’ issued during the first lockdown” and “take close interest in data that shows consumers expanding their portfolio of games and spending more time or money than before.

“Interact directly where triggers are reached, in addition to their more generic email engagement [and] avoid any temptation to exploit the current situation for marketing purposes.

“[And] take particular care when on-boarding new customers and making decisions over affordability checks which reflect the environment we are in.”

Meantime, in a measure of its heightened posture, the UKGB has moved in and suspended the licence of online operator Goldchip Ltd. (Goldchip.com), pending further investigation.

The commission said that suspected “social responsibility and anti-money laundering failings were key considerations in the suspension decision”.

Goldchip customers will still be able to access their accounts and withdraw funds, said the UKGC.

In a further crackdown, the commission has sanctioned iGaming operators Jumpman Gaming and Progress Play with levies of £500,000 (US$621,779/€589,331) and £175,718 (US$218,515/€207,112), respectively, for breaching anti-money laundering and responsible gaming safeguards.